A group of SM West seniors have been coordinating with school administrators and student groups to plan a walk out April 20 as part of a national demonstration of support for school safety and gun reform.
Seniors Camryn Kubicki and Paige Kring have led organization of the effort, which will have students leave the building at 10 a.m. that Friday for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim of the Parkland shooting.
Kubicki said the two had approached SM West principal Steve Loe about the idea for the walkout to see if the administration would work with students on accommodating some kin of demonstration.
“Our first step was to talk with the principal to see if people participated in a walkout, would they be punished,” Kubicki said. “He was accepting of the idea and on board with it.”
Kubicki said they’d made the decision to limit the walk out to 17 minutes — as opposed leaving class for the rest of the day, as many student groups are planning to do — because they didn’t want to disrespect teachers and building leaders.
“We thought that leaving for the whole day would send the wrong message to some of the teachers and administrators, because they’re not the people we’re protesting or taking action against,” she said.
Instead, she said, the goal is to create a “unifying event” that will focus on the desire for students to be able to feel safe at school. While Kubicki acknowledges that there is “always going to be a touch of politics” in such events, she said the hope was to focus on an idea that everyone can agree on: Students shouldn’t have to feel afraid inside a school building.
“The negative feedback we’ve gotten is that it’s a rally for political party,” Kubicki said. “It goes past that. No one wants to see kids hurt when they’re within the school walls. We want to send the message that we care about school safety.”
The plan is for students participating in the walk out to head to the school’s practice football field where they will listen to speakers before heading back to class. Kubicki said they are planning for as many as 1,500 students to participate.
Kubicki said she and Kring had been inspired to get involved after seeing the Parkland students’ activism.
“It had been a concern at the forefront of my mind for a few years, but it wasn’t until I saw the Parkland students saying, ‘No, it shouldn’t have happened. No, it shouldn’t ever happen again,’ that it clicked in for me,” she said. “We need actual change.”